Dubai based designer Orchid Ganji has created a name for herself in the local fashion scene with her beautiful show-stopping creations. Her haute couture line has garnered a following of luxury fashion devotees. Orchid has not only made master pieces in couture, she also has beautiful works in the field of interior designing and visual arts. The latest of her couture collections reminds me of fairytales, floating clouds and all things dreamy! We talk to the designer to find out more about her life, her brand, and what it takes to create one!
Khansa (HA): Hello Orchid! Welcome to Haute Arabia! Please tell us more about yourself.
Orchid: I was born in California to Iranian parents and lived in Germany until the age of 13. We moved to Dubai just before things really started to pick up here in 2001 and I’ve lived here since.
Growing up the one thing I always knew clearly was that I would want to study Design and so I was eventually caught at the crossroads of design. I knew I loved Fashion Design and was spending every minute researching and educating myself through the wonders of the internet, but the adventurous challenge-loving side of me wanted to go for something outside the ordinary and pulled me towards Product Design. At the end though, I ended up getting my Bachelor’s at the American University in Dubai in Interior Design while starting to work professionally in the field of Fashion on the side.
Khansa (HA): Going though your portfolio, I had a feeling that art truly belonged to you! When did you begin designing clothes and what propelled you to launch a clothing line?
Orchid: The first time I started designing clothing was probably way before my conscious mind picked up on it. I was from an early age plunged into the creative world with all types of art and music classes and being a 90s kid I was obsessed with music videos of the time, often incorporating different fashion ideologies. Today, i think that really motivated me to project the same sense of fantasy into my own life. However, I always had my own point of view and most of my sketches were contrary to the fashion of the late 90s. Today I look back to them and am quite surprised myself that a little girl (aged eight or nine) who loved N*sync and Aqua would dress women as Madonna in her fantasies!
This was around the time of Gianni Versace’s assassination and I remember news channels in Germany all reporting on it. The fact that he had built an empire made out of his imaginations amazed me and that’s when I realized I wanted to do the same. Any kind of activity I had then on was centralized around the same goal .In 2009 I started doing the research and we finally launched Orkalia (a combination of mine and my sister’s name, Azalia) in 2010.
Khansa (HA): That is indeed an inspiring start! So what’s work like on a day-to-day basis?
Orchid: Presently, I’ve kind of split my days in two. Mornings are all about production and various business activities whereas my afternoons are dedicated to design work and couture appointments. I’m a little bit of a perfectionist and so everything that needs to be done for the brand is done by me. This not only includes the design of collections and overseeing details but goes on to our social media outlets, our website, graphics and everything else in between. While it basically means that my days are completely packed, it ensures that everything at Orkalia is the real essence of my work.
Khansa (HA): Your an extremely busy person but I can see you truly indulge in your work and savor the moments! In what way(s) do your designs reflect your background?
Orchid: I really love things that have a creative source. Whether it’s the Arts, Music, Architecture or even Technology, anything that challenges the norms of society catches my attention and interest. With this in mind, varieties of different concepts and themes live under the same roof in my head and have learnt to live in peace and harmony. Consequently, my designs always have a sense of mystery to them, even if they are the simplest things.
Khansa (HA): How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Orchid: Timeless if slightly unconventional. Elegant if somewhat controversial. Modern if fairly opulent.
Khansa (HA): Your designs are true to your words! What kind of fabrics/materials do you enjoy working with the most?
Orchid: I really love fabrics that have a hard look but soft feel or vice versa. I enjoy working with Organza on soft-eyeing looks that need structure and chiffon for designs that depend on texture while they need ease. Another favorite is tulle as it mimics a canvas for me and allows for a variety of different applications while following the body beautifully.
Khansa (HA): What type of woman wears Orkalia?
Orchid: Orkalia is for the woman who wants to make a statement without becoming obtrusive; the woman who appreciates unexpected elements of design surreptitiously, and ultimately, the woman whose impeccable taste is reflected in the attention to detail and inspired expression of her look.
Khansa (HA): If you had the chance to collaborate with a famous fashion designer, who would it be?
Orchid: Depends on the nature of the collaboration. However, I genuinely love the work of Zac Posen and Riccardo Tisci. I love the bluntness of Oscar de la Renta and Azzedine Alaia. To add to the list,. I admire the nonconformity of Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford.
Khansa (HA): Name your favorite shopping destinations around the world.
Orchid: I think there’s something about New York that really gives me shopping drive. Perhaps it’s the pedestrian way of getting around town that really motivates me and perhaps it’s the coming together of cultures that I love. It really helps that people sincerely care to make conversation there too, which I think is always important for a shopper – to connect to a brand on a personal level.
Khansa (HA): Starting your own clothing line must’ve been exciting. However, you must’ve gone through difficult challenges and learned a few lessons along the way. What advice do you have for aspiring young designers?
Orchid: Yes, the process was quite exciting but I also learnt many things the hard way! My advice for aspiring designers is to get some hands-on experience at a reputable company in the field and market they would like to work in. However, it is important to keep your own viewpoint and have clear vision of your goals; otherwise you might end up living someone else’s dream instead. And if I haven’t emphasized it enough already, you need to have a vision that will drive you endlessly no matter what happens in the industry –after all it is one of the toughest to find your place in!
Khansa (HA): 10 years from now, what do you want your line to be known for?
Orchid: The same things as today! Expansion is a vital step in a business; however it is very important to us to maintain the essence of Orkalia as it is today. In a business point of view, though, we would like to reach a wider audience through our ready-to-wear division, O by Orkalia with international expansion.
Khansa (HA): If you were to choose one must have item from your latest collection, what would it be?
Orchid: One of my personal favorites is our beaded legging from O by Orkalia. It is a statement piece and can really change your whole look! It looks especially good paired with a simple Abaya as it will peak through when you are walking – teasing your way through the room!
Khansa (HA): Blogs are very ‘in’ these days, do you follow any fashion blogs?
Orchid: I generally prefer those blogs that have a point of view rather than those who use their prominence to boast. Blogs have become a very important means of communication as they are a bridge between the brand and the customer; however I think it’s important to have something original to offer. I enjoy reading The Manrepeller as she always challenges my thoughts with her fashion sense as well as her extraordinary writing. Another favorite of mine is The Tehran Times, where you will see some of the most interesting street styles in a diverse environment.
Khansa (HA): Name an article of clothing or an accessory you cannot live without?
Orchid: As much as people like debating whether they are an entity by themselves or not, I love leggings! I think a great pair of leggings does what a pair of jeans did in the past. You can pair them with heels and a top or with a loose shirt and boots – there’s versatility in their use, their looks and best of all they’re comfortable!
Khansa (HA): Besides fashion, what are your other interests?
Orchid: Besides designing fashion, I like reading about fashion and its industry. I’m somewhat obsessed with analytical data, too – some people collect books, I collect PDFs. Other than that though, I like traveling and observing new places. I like everything that’s design related, ways to improve modern lifestyles while pleasing the human race aesthetically.
Khansa (HA): So what’s next for Orkalia? Any projects underway?
Orchid: We’ve recently launched our Ready-to-Wear division, O by Orkalia, so there’s going to be many projects underway in that direction. We are also tapping into new markets in the coming future so look out for us.
Khansa (HA): Fashion Advice for our readers:
Orchid: Do follow trends, but don’t become them. There’s a reason for the fashion industry to be ever-evolving – people get tired of everyone looking one and the same eventually.
Thank you Orchid for a very pleasant interview! We look forward to having your collections on Haute Arabia in the future! Good Luck for all your projects in the meantime! We are all rooting for you!
Feature Editor: Khansa
To view more from Orkalia Collections, please visit:
Orkalia Haute Couture is located on Al Wasl Road in Dubai, where customers can place their orders for customized dresses and bridal gowns. For more information and to set up an appointment with the designer, Orkalia can be reached by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 00971-4-3499933.
The ready-to-wear collection of O by Orkalia is also available at the flagship Boutique as well as online on www.orkalia.co . O by Orkalia will also be present at the Riyadh Fashion Days and will be available for purchase from Maison Bo-M in Riyadh through May 31st 2013.